About the Guide

A Joint Product of the Software Preservation Network and the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic @ the Berkman Klein Center.

Every three years the Library of Congress adopts a set of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provision prohibiting circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. In other words, they create a set of exceptions to the general legal rule against cracking digital locks on things like DVDs, software, and video games. In the latest rule making cycle, the Software Preservation Network (represented by the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic) and the Library Copyright Alliance successfully advocated for expanded rules to permit preservation of software and video games. The resulting rules went into effect on October 28, 2021 and will last until October 28th, 2024.

This guide is intended to help preservationists determine whether their activities fall under the new exemptions for software and video game preservation. Just as the current rules are updates to the previous rules, this second version of the guide is an update of the previous guide. To avoid confusion we have removed outdated guides from our website, but please contact SPN to obtain previous editions of the guide.


Request for Community Feedback

Let us know if you use the exemption as part of your practice, and what you are preserving. Your feedback will be used to create an FAQ, and as evidence for renewal of the exemption in 2024.

DMCA Preservationist’s Guide Feedback Form

Email: kalbert@law.harvard.edu


Additional Information

2018 Rulemaking Materials (NOTE: These rules are no longer in effect and these materials are included purely for historical reference.)

Preferred citation:

Albert, Kendra. Lee, Kee Young. (2022, December 6). A Preservationist's Guide to the DMCA Exemption for Software Preservation, 2nd Edition. Software Preservation Network. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7328909